Best Served Cold

Milk Run 3-Dash

This should be interesting, Dash said to herself as she looked down on the warehouse floor beneath her. She was perched in the shadows on one of the structural roof beams on the far side of the warehouse. The rest of the building was dimly lit, with a small group of men gathering on opposite walls. Additional men from each sides surrounded the Tacoma waterfront property to ensure privacy and a lack of interference.

The men on both sides appeared nervous and scanned the building for danger or potential treachery. It was for this reason that she was perched so far away and left her foci at home. She was sure that each of the groups would have at least someone that could perceive astral space and if she was spotted the gig was up. She still maintained line of sight and could hear what was being said over the laser microphone. The only reason she felt safe being this close was earlier today she summoned a very powerful spirit to provide her with concealment. She was still seriously injured from the summoning—it was the most powerful spirit she was ever able to summon and she was happy to have done it successfully (and to do it while staying alive was a great bonus). She could still feel the spirit stalking inside of her waiting to be free. The injury was just one more reason not to get in the fray tonight.

She didn’t blame either group for being cautious. Over the last 2-3 weeks, the minor skirmishes between a small group of the Tiger’s and the Yellow Lotus had engulfed into a full out war. The serious injury and almost death of a key Lotus enforcer caused the triad to need to put the Tigers in their place. Two nights later 7 tigers were captured, eviscerated, and left to be found deep in downtown Tacoma Tiger territory. Since then the Tigers locked everything down and stayed hunkered well within their zone of control, only leaving to engage in targeted raids against their newfound enemy.

Three days ago, the 88’s, another triad group and a rival to the yellow lotus, arranged this meeting to try to calm things down. While not really opposed to the yellow lotus being involved in any war, the 88’s knew that given their relationship with the Tigers, they would be brought into this sooner or later and with the business coming down in the next few months, now was not a convenient time. The war had also become inconvenient for Yellow Lotus after their night of knives. Apparently, Knight Errant was under the impression that the group raided an Ares Research lab and has been all up in the Yellow Lotus’s shit since then. An arrest was even made of an enforcer that “was seen” during the robbery who “left fingerprints” at the scene. Tragic. Hence the meeting tonight. The Tigers have been brutalized, the Yellow Lotus are distracted, and the 88’s wanted to focus on business. The word on the street is that everyone agreed to have an 88 smoothtalker named Craig Valentine to try to smooth things over.

At 2200, the real players arrived and both groups headed towards a table set up in the middle of a warehouse. It was obvious to all that there was no love lost between the parties involved. It was time for Valentine to get to work. Valentine was a very chromed and very smooth Chinese elf. He had an obvious two cyberarms, and a pair of obvious cybereyes. He moved like he was wired. Rumor has it that there are less obvious modifications. Supposedly Valentine’s tailored pheromones were genetically customized and were significantly more effective than even the normal top of the line variety. Yes, Valentine was a paragon of elfish charisma and a good choice for this task. Unfortunately for him he was only moderately intelligent and just didn’t have a lot of mental fortitude. Siting at the table was the Triad Lieutenant Li Tamm. Li Tamm was a middle aged Chinese male with greying hair and a crisp business suit. The word on the streets was that he was a good lawyer and an even better mage. Across from him was Derek Vargas, the apex predator of the Tiger universe.

As Valentine started his pitch, AR windows popped up around the table. Pictures, maps, and agreements. Within minutes it was obvious that even though everyone wanted the same thing, it is the details that can get deadly. Without her foci, she had some difficulty understanding the details of the Chinese being said but things were not going good. Maybe some of the rumors that she had been planting the last few days had taken root. Maybe not. Regardless it was almost time.

Every story needs a good climax and Dash felt that this climax was fast approaching. Things got started when Li Tamm stood up and started to say something angrily in Chinese. Damn, that was a useful focus she left at home. Back to the matter at hand. She then communed with the Spirit of Man that was trapped inside her and told him, her, it… whatever… that it was time. One more service and it would be released. Just do what we agreed.

Spirits have different powers and different levels of raw power. This particular spirit was a Spirit of Man and its power was like a 12 on the richter scale. This spirit was instructed to do one thing. Introduce a particular thought into Craig Valentine. It is interesting how influence works in a subject. The greater the discrepancy between the action and what the subject was being influenced to do, the greater the chance of resistance. So instead of influencing Valentine to shoot Tamm in the fragging head, the spirit was instructed to insert a thought that Valentine should point his gun at Tamm’s face to get him to shut up and listen. Dash hoped that between the power and flavor of the influence, and Valentine’s weak mind, that he wouldn’t have a chance.

As Valentine raised his weapon, Li Tamm’s eyes widened in shock. As a mage, it was theoretically possible for him to notice the spell on Valentine but like everyone else he was just looking at all the AR bullshit so it was doubtful he was perceiving the astral. The weapon pointed at Tamm’s head, and Valentine prepared to speak to tell him to sit the fuck down and listen. It was Dash’s turn.

Valentine used an Erika Elite, a decent comlink that ran his PAN and was decently defended. Attached to that PAN was his equipment, including the Ares Viper Slivergun. His PAN also happened to be attached to his electrochromatic clothing. The day before she managed to get a hold of his jacket, which with physical access allowed her easy access to Valentine’s PAN, even with her basic hacking skills. After putting marks on the PAN and incidentally the Ares Viper all Dash had to do was wait. Wait for this moment. The command was sent out through the matrix and Valentine’s weapon, which was aimed at Tamm’s head, went off, in a full round of burst fire.

After the gun fired, surprise shot across Valentine’s face. Whether it was surprise that he pulled the gun, that it fired, or the 11 bullets that just hit him in the chest from the Yellow Lotus contingent was unknown. Bullets started to fly everywhere.

Having completed his service, the spirit vanished and left Dash feeling weak from her previous wounds. Dash quickly summoned an air spirit at a more standard power level. Having several services with this spirit she resumed concealment, movement, and had the spirit use its powers of accident and confusion to turn the battle so the Tigers and 88’s would lose. This night would be squandered if at least one Yellow Lotus did not survive to report tonights events to their superiors.

Milk Run 2-Dash

“This does not feel right, not right at all.” Dash thought to herself as she half snuck up the street. As she approached the target address she had to consciously fight against her normal instincts. Instead of true stealth, this mission required another kind of sneaking, the kind of sneaking that got you discovered.

This was much harder than it appeared because she had complete her mission but also clearly be identified doing what she had to do. It also had to look like a genuine effort. Dash solved this problem by engaging in the kind of sneaking the “heroes do in the trids.” She mostly stayed in the shadows, moved quickly between cover, but did not allow herself to be patient or deliberate when approaching the target. The chances of immediate discovery were low-it was around 2 in the morning and the streets were essentially deserted in this nice of a neighborhood but she made sure that she was caught by several of the cameras she scoped out the night before.

Over the past week she had been preparing for this next phase of her plan. Her previous phase had essentially come to fruition. The last target, Joey Qiao, was a better choice than dash could have dreamed. Working with the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, Joey sought out revenge against those he thought wronged him. Two drive bye’s and several raids later, several cells of the Tigers and Yellow Lotus were in all-out war and over the course of a week, wearing the Tiger colors in the wrong part of town turned into a capital offense. Unfortunately, in the past two days, the larger Tiger leadership saw the need to get control of the situation and “Joey” reluctantly heeled for his masters.

Upon reflection Dash recognized that part of what was making her uncomfortable was the clothes. Normally, she wore something loose and was movement friendly. Tonight, Dash was wearing the traditional black leather jacket, chaps, and other traditional garb of the Tigers. She wasn’t too worried about having stole them. The guy she got them from won’t be able to use them for a while if ever again. The clothes were the smallest changes for the night. They were accessorized by a very different and very particular face. Joey Qiao is definitely the trendsetter.

The face was compliments of Oda, a pretty skilled chummer that Dash had started to do some runs with. He seems both professional and competent. Ignoring that, he has done some of the best diguises (both magical and physical) that Dash had seen. He also had an interesting technique for dealing with spirits that could potentially be useful. Something to look into.

After ensuring that the face was “accidentally” seen by several of the cameras in the area, Dash reached her objective, a brand new pearly white SK Bently Concordat belonging to Damian Chao, a yellow lotus physical adept enforcer. Her contact said that Damian could smell an ambush or danger a mile away and was a tough vengeful son of a bitch. More importantly, her sources told her that he had been tasked to make sure that the Tiger issue doesn’t get in the way of business. She intentionally put her hands on different parts of the car and the outdoor carport. She wasn’t sure if the fake fingerprints would be found but there little downside to adding the little extra effort.

She slipped under the car and connected a lump of C-4 to the ignition system. Between the car’s firewall, Damian’s danger sense, and his magical fortitude there was a high likelihood that Damian would survive. If not, it was not ideal but a contingency was ready if that outcome emerged.

For the rest of the night, Dash used influence as many individuals she could, introducing the rumor that Joey had planned something big, something to put the end to all the fighting. Once that was done all she had left to do was sit and wait.

Milk Run #3.5 (Razz)
The bones of what you believe

Later that night, forty miles southeast of where he and Fierce were accosted just hours ago, there was no moon, few stars, and enough low fog to obscure almost everything on the ground.

Razz is equipped with his PSC-15 thermal vision goggles.

Below, the night shift supervisor was checking the false loading documents for a shipment of goods with Lone Star Inc. stamps – scheduled to arrive by shipboard container the following day. The old man normally did his best to stay away from the working end of this part of his business, but sometimes he had to make himself visible for the sake of appearances. Sid Brackhaven, Troy’s younger brother, was impressed by the way his supervisor worked the dozen men in the warehouse, giving his foremen suggestions rather than orders. He sensed his men had been working for this man for some time. Suddenly, the old man cocked his head, as if he sensed something rather than heard it. He turned to the younger Brackhaven…

“What is that truck doing there in the back, behind that stack of lumber?”

“Ah.” Sid replied, “It’s the consignment of fertilizer that was delivered this morning.”

“I didn’t order any –“

Razz pushes the button on the detonator. It wasn’t a blinding flash, and the sound was more of an angry gray WHUMP than an explosion. Surprisingly, there was only minor damage done to the surrounding structures. Yet, everyone on the bottom floor of the warehouse perishes. Some fourteen metas were killed, but only those few with dental records and a SIN were identified. One was the youngest nephew of a prominent Seattle politician. The Governor in fact, and the authorities would be wondering just what he might have been doing there…

The elder brother runs to the window in terror as he looks down at the gory sight that used to be his TK crew. His frantically dart back and forth, searching for his younger brother. Troy Brackhaven’s office was on the 8th floor and looked out over the expanse of the extended port area. There was a smog-induced haze that partially obscured Razz’s silhouette from his perch on the roof of the adjacent building. The TK Captain did not clearly see the silhouette from across the way, but Razz could see him behind the stabilized optics. The glass was married to his Ares Alpha with a magnified point-designated sighting system. After the target had been identified by the system’s laser range finder and the target designator, the weapon would not fire unless the gun was aimed precisely on target.

Razz identifies his target, Troy’s head, and presses the trigger, wavering around just a bit until the crosshairs momentarily rest on Troy’s lazy left eye. The rifle bucks, and a moment later a 500-grain round came through the plate glass and into the young Brackhaven’s right nostril. Still traveling at 10,000 feet per second, the heavy slug tore into his skull, causing it to explode and paint the inside of his office with cranial tissue and brain matter.

From the roof, Razz kicks out his hundred-foot-long, four inch thick braided nylon fast rope, and descends the building like a drop of oil coming down a string.

Mission Success!

Milk Run #1 (Dash)
Strike the match

“Hoi Chummer.” Dash said to herself as she looked through the binoculars at her next candidate. Jo or “Joey” Qiao, was head of a small Tiger biker gang that operated in the shadows of Downtown Tacoma. The past several nights she kept herself occupied by watching various Tiger groups from the roofs and the shadows. “It is very important to find the right patsy,” she reflected, “When you start a fire, you need to have good kindling.”

It seemed like her intelligence was correct, as this group of Tigers seemed to have more muscle than brain and more ego than both combined. As they pulled up to the Palace of China in Downtown Tacoma, they revved their motorcyles through the parking lot before parking in the three handicap spots up against the restaurant. Figures. Dash looked at her watch. 2030. Right on time. Hopefully they’ll stay true to their routine. Actually, this looked promising enough that she smiled at the night the Tigers looked forward too. Routine indeed.

“Joey”’s bike was a wiz looking Yamaha Nodahi. A beautiful, dangerous bike, buffed and chromed. Shame. The other bikes were also crotch rockets. “A bike,” she said to herself, “It would be nice to have a bike.” She was not looking forward to the walk back to the closest bus stop that would take her back home. It would take forever to get there without being seen. Maybe someday. Gotta stay alive first. Stop getting distracted. Keep your eye on the mark.

As it was a Friday, the restraunt was still busy. Joey pushed past the line of people waiting to get seated followed by 12 of his closest friends. No reaction from the waitress and the murmuring of the patrons were quickly hushed by the restraint staff. A table was left open for him. He’s done this before. Before he entered the building he did turn around and scoped out the parking lot. Perfect. Big smile for the camera.
Joey’s crew was a small contingent of the Tiger gang, a local Chinese gang that had strong connections to the 88’s. And that’s why I’m here tonight. Tonight is the first domino. The last will hopefully lead to an all out gang war.

“I need you” she said to the air. Within seconds a granite figure materialized before her. “Do it,” she told the figure, “And don’t get seen. If you’re successful, I will waive the rest of my services.” All that she could do now was watch. It should work. The spirit was so powerful she almost killed herself summoning it.

Within minutes she saw some kind of liquid dumped on all of the bikes and the small flame of a lighter. The spirit then dropped a small item in between some of the bikes but out of the fire. Good. He then disappeared. Even though no one saw the spirit, the resulting inferno definitely grabbed everyone’s attention. The Tigers sprinted out of the building guns drawn but left with nothing to shoot at. Two firetrucks and 30 minutes later, the fires were out and the polished chrome Nodahi was totaled. So were most of the other bikes.
“Find it, Find it,” She willed to the frothing Tigers. While cathartic, this night would mean nothing if they didn’t find the package. Nothing. Drek. She summoned another spirit. A manshaped figure materialized before her. I want you to help one of the gang members to look down at the ground and find the small package by the bikes. 30 seconds later one of the members reached down, picked something up, and handed it to Joey. Sometimes you have to make you own luck.

The particular piece of luck that was left behind was the comlink of Tam Yam, a competent triad enforcer. More specifically a Yellow Lotus enforcer. It was actually pretty easy to have a low level spirit grab it from his place after he stumbled home drunk the night before. Hopefully “Joey” won’t take too kindly to Tam torching his property or the extra text message I had sent to the phone telling him to do it. Hopefully the Tigers will do something stupid. And as the tigers are one of the main footsoldiers for the 88’s, if we continue to fan this flame then things will get really fun.

Frag, its going to be a long walk. I need to get a vehicle. That’s the chip truth.

Milk Run #3
Out of the pan and into the fire

It’s dark and wet. I wake up on the ground, lying on my side in an empty alley. My hands are zip-tied behind my back. I cough and taste metallic blood. My head is throbbing like a troll took a sledgehammer to it. It takes three of them to hoist me up, I can’t see the two at my sides because of the shadow. The one in front I can make out though. He is a handsome, slender elf. He pulls me up by the front of my collar. My head is spinning but old habits die hard -

I smile with my gnarly, east-bloc metal mouth and spit a gulp of blood into his pretty face.

He cries out “Fuck!” and I receive a flurry of blows to my head and body from all sides. I fall to my knees in pain. The strikes continue. I’m laughing loud and hysterical.

Someone cuts my hands free, instant relief. I feel giant troll mitts grab hold of my shoulders and drag me through a door way. I’m inside a building now, on the ground again outside of an office door. He sets me down and bellows, “The boss is waiting.” He takes a few steps back, then leans against the wall, a towering giant watching me carefully with his goddamn tree-trunk arms crossed in front of his whiskey-barreled chest.

I gather myself, breathe deep. Focus Razz.

The door is slightly open, I step inside.

I recognize the voice immediately.

“Razzzzz…” feigning surprise.

I respond, “Yes.” Or: Guilty as charged.

“Come in, and shut the door.”

It was a small square space with a window without a view, and a rug on the wall, and photographs on the walls, and a double wide storage unit in the corner… It was a small square space empty of Metas poised to murder me or beat me even more, apart from Gang Boss Drake Pie himself in a chair behind the desk. This is the Kingpin I promised 10K Nuyen to for a boatload of performance stims… and never made good on that promise. He looks up at me and smiles.

Drake said, “You’re late. You know what happens to people who don’t repay their loans…?”
“I’m sorry,” I stammer, “Payment was held up by – “

Drake interrupts. “There are plenty of Street-Sams in the Seattle sprawl… maybe too many. Maybe I need to do some culling.”

I say nothing.

He asks, “Was I on your list of things that might crawl out from under a rock?”

You were the list, I thought.

He says, “If I wanted you dead, I’d have you organ-legged by the Dis-assemblers. I’d have you done the last time you were in Bellevue, which I know for a FACT was last Thursday. Maybe I’d be there myself to watch it all unfold…”

I say nothing. He looks at me for a moment, and then a smile starts on his face. And then the smile turns into a laugh, which he tries hard to suppress, but he can’t. It comes out like a bark or a sneeze – he has to lean back in his chair and look at the ceiling.
“I have a problem. Someone fucked up worse than even you. This kid is a Troll Killers Captain, he’s dealing in pharmaceuticals and pushing into MY territory. He’s the nephew to Seattle’s very own Governor Brackhaven – I’m not going to be implicated in this so it’s your problem now. Or, I can call Tiny and Bragalos in here to rip you apart… piece by piece.”

I edge and use my knowledge of Seattle gangs.

I know all about the TKs… Like you’d expect from the name, the Troll Killers are bigoted humans whose idea of a good time is collecting Ork tusks and Troll horns to wear as trophies. They started out as the spawn of Humanis supporters and sympathizers in Seattle and became something of a rite of passage; some members of the gang are the second- and even third-generation. Unfortunately for the TKs, their chosen prey got organized and fought back, and the gang took some serious hits from opposition like the Ragers and even the Skraacha, forcing them to pull back around their Lake Washington turf.

Well… not anymore anyway. Somebody has been arming the Troll Killers lately and turning them into vigilante bands. A lot of the ordinance is stuff that went “missing” during the metroplex security transition, meaning it technically belonged to Lone Star Inc., but I bet the connection is more with the Brackhaven administration with Lone Star as the fall guys. The TKs might even just be stalking horses: get the metas riled-up enough to fight back, then you can call it a riot and have Knight Errant come down on them hard like an orbit shot and say you’re just “maintaining law and order.”

“If I do this, we are square!”

He leans back in his chair. There’s a pause. “Yes.”

I turn and walk out, pretty confident that I just accepted a suicide mission…

Milk Run Part 2 Next week!

Razz Origins
Part 1

I used to be like you, a long time ago. All brand new and perfect; all meat, no mistakes, no tattoos with the words “no regrats”. People probably look at you and think of how wonderful your future will be. They want you to be something special, like a Corporate SINner or some big shot politician. I hate to tell you this, but if you grow up here – in the time of the Awakening – you’re more likely to wind up selling your soul to the Megas or the streets. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll make money selling junk to nova-crackheads, and won’t think twice about taking the life of a non-SINner, because you won’t even know it’s wrong in the first place. And maybe… just maybe you’ll end up like me. A death dealing cyber-brute who trades in his morals for a payday. A shadow of real human being. A shadowrunner…

Today, I wake up in my makeshift squat. My sleeping bag is soaked with grease and grime. It smells like home. You see – when a person finds themselves sleeping rough, they have to learn how to adapt. They have to overcome their fear of dirt and disease, maybe even embrace it.

Most of the homeless community in this area of Renton are disturbed and socially deficient individuals (drug addicts or psychopaths like yours truly) whose behavior is unpredictable. My excuse – whatever part of me I haven’t swapped out with metal is drawn to this lifestyle, somehow needs it. I’m still searching for a code, a purpose… a way of holding on to the humanity that I’m gradually exchanging for cyberware -

A little background…

I spent eight years at a foster home in Renton. I liked it actually. It was kind of a normal family. We had dinner together. Celebrated holidays. But I was a difficult kid. I got into fights with everyone, foster parents, class mates, it didn’t matter. Sometimes I would run away for weeks at a time and go back home when I was too hungry, too dirty. The streets soon became my home.

Why? I guess I’m steeling myself. Steeling myself to the fact that the scars and pain and destruction I encounter everywhere are wrought by this time’s failures as much as its successes. The miracle that could have powered the world into a golden age instead was used to make war –

Nahhhhh… let’s be real. It’s the the freedom and easy access to drugs. And there’s the employment piece. I was breaking into homes and breaking bones for scum street gangs since I hit puberty. And I’ve always been great at being a thug. Except I had a heart once. That was before I met Uncle Yu – then he took me under his wing. It was a good thing really. He’s the reason why Zarcain and I both aren’t rotting in an Aztecnology prison-camp right now. Taught us how to scavenge east of the border like pros. We were careful AND lucky. Plus nobody much cared anyway and if they did, it was my job to make them dead.

Robotics factories, ammunition depots, rare-metals refineries, it didn’t matter. It was a way to earn Nuyen pawning old tech and valuables. It was also the genesis of my training… Years ago I hit a long forgotten armory. It was late summer, midnight. There was a blood moon. Outside, just in front of the entrance, there was a 2040’s era U.S. Army truck with radioactive barrels in the back among all the junk strewn throughout the area. All entrances locked down tight, I had to enter through a blown-out ventilation shaft. The interior itself was unique among all the other run-downs I’d burgled up to that point. The radiation heavy, I scanned the entry room and found it devoid of any real valuables, save for a journal fragment on a desk – something told me to hang onto it and I continued exploring. Rummaging through lockers and dressers and then finally to a caged supply area, I found an array of missile launchers, various rifles and SMG’s and my baby – an “All-American Marksman carbine”, 2022 model. Jackpot. Or so I thought. The real score waited for me below…

Part 2 Next week!

You Can Find Me in the Club
Drunken Shenanigans?

It had been a bad week for the team.

The issue with Michelle/Rachel, whatever, was hashed out unsatisfactorily to all parties involved and left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Trust was at an all time low.

Despite that, after achieving a victory of sorts against Brynn’s literal killers, the team decided to dig deeper and figure out who was responsible. Help came from an unlikely source, as the assassin Mariposa invited them to visit with Octagon 426, an enforcer, in a teahouse in downtown Seattle.

Arriving at the meeting, they were surprised to find that the 426 was a petite Chinese woman. Flanked by two bruised goons, she explained her position.

The Temple they had ransacked was, indeed, neutral ground for the Triad and as part of their agreements, the Octagon, Yellow Lotus, and 88s rotated security. When the team hit the Temple, it just so happened that it was the Octagons that were responsible for protecting the Temple grounds. Ultimately, the 426 offered them a deal, slights forgiven should the team return the fan they stole and identify the one who ordered it stolen.

As an added incentive, she offered to pay them a retainer and a flat amount upon completion.

So that went well. … enough.

The only other thing to go well for them that week was a call from Zarcain to Julio Fernandez, the man who had orchestrated their first job. Not overly pleased to hear from them, Zarcain offered 10,000 nuyen for information on the man Oda had sketched based on the go-ganger they had interrogated. Ian Miller, a name that the 426 knew, but nothing more… Julio had a further lead, a club in Bellevue.

So began the shenanigans. Checking out the club yielded very little the first night. The proprietors were a pair of men, perhaps in their 30s, fashionably dressed and impeccably groomed. They were accompanied by two beautiful young women and overshadowed by bodyguards. Zarcain was unable to get close. He did learn that they had a back area guarded by a masked troll in pressed Berwick fashions. The only real incident that evening was a failed attempt by Razz to get in through the kitchen entrance.

The second night, Zarcain opted for a… ‘bolder’ approach. Meeting with one of the two proprietors, he threatened to blow their club up while it was in full swing if they did not offer up information on Ian Miller. The man smiled and returned to his own seat, content to call the bluff. The rest of the team weren’t overly pleased by Zarcain’s maneuver but never learned if he was truly intent on carrying it out as Ricky jumped the gun and attempted to plow his Bulldog through the wall of the club.

His Kool-Aid Man moment faltered when he failed to reach enough speed to actually blow through the building, instead crashing and nearly killing himself and Rock. Quick thinking from Razz and Michelle saved their lives, but nothing could be done for a handful revelers who had been crushed under the wheels of the Bulldog and between the vehicle and the implacable wall. The two moved away into the night, uncertain of their next move.

Surveillance over the next few days netted them a hit when a black Nightsky pulled up to the club Tuesday evening, the first of two consecutive nights the club wasn’t actually open. The two individuals loaded up, along with their security detail, and drove away.

What they didn’t see, before they left, was the fly spy that settled onto the frame beneath the vehicle and locked on, guiding the team to a chateau in the mountains east of Seattle.

With a new target in mind, the team moved to track them down.

The Road to Vengeance

The death of Brynn Taggart, especially so close on the heels of their recent victories, was a sobering punch in the gut, as far as the crew was concerned. Finding her dead, abused body upstairs in the warehouse had turned their minds to darker thoughts, vengeance chief among them.

The clues were sparse, but they were there. A black folding knife embedded into the counter in the kitchen. Tire treads in the side alley, indicating, according to Ricky, at least two motorcycles. Roadsters, not racing bikes. The missing fan. The brutality of the killing.

They came back within a week with their answers. While the interior footage was hacked and wiped, footage from neighborhood cameras showed the arrival of three members of the 405 Hellhounds, a go-gang that generally operated in Bellevue; they left shortly afterward with something in a satchel. The knife was a calling card of a prime assassin known as ‘Mariposa’ or Butterfly. The Johnson arriving to claim the fan after the 405 gangers left, then hurriedly leaving empty handed.

Their first thought was to check the Johnson. Tyson Harvey. A middle manager at a distribution company who apparently moonlighted as a fixer for Shadowrunners. Zarcain and Rock went to his office and the receptionist said he hadn’t showed up to work in a few days.

Oda and Ricky went to the man’s house and found his body, along with the entirety of his home ransacked. That the entire house was upturned led the crew to believe that whatever the assailants were searching for, they didn’t find it. Probably the fan.

With those four busy tracking the leads on Tyson Harvey, Razz and Michelle looked in on Stonewall, the only one of the bikers that had visited Brynn’s doss that they were able to get identified. The dwarf had a record of criminal violence. They eventually learned that he frequented a local gentlemen’s club called ‘Cookies.’ Razz and Michelle went inside where Razz instantly became a hit with the 405 members that were already there by ingesting copious quantities of drugs and partying hard with them.

While there, he managed to convince the group to ‘invite more friends’ and then, afterwards, to take the party to the 405’s clubhouse, an autoshop in Bellevue. Razz and Michelle went with the go-gangers while the rest of the crew gathered and made their way, ten minutes behind. The promise of more friends, and more importantly: women, put the go-gangers in good spirits and they didn’t flinch when a van pulled up to the rolling door of their autoshop and Razz went to open the door.

They flinched hard when the opening revealed a GMC Bulldog with a Steel Lynx in the back, along with a gas grenade tossing dwarf and spell-slinging wizard. Despite the use of heavy ordinance of their own and even a crazed beast spirit, the crew had everything in hand within seconds. Unfortunately, not before an RPG was launched into the back of the van. Oda managed to escape, but Rock Hardagan was launched out of the van in the ensuing explosion, living by a miracle.

Afterwards, the crew executed each of the go-gangers they weren’t interested in and took the three they wanted back to the warehouse. Michelle was out for the count due to some knockout gas so Zarcain offered to drive her car with her in it back to the warehouse to meet with the crew.

The others arrived first and began preparations to question the go-gangers when the door opened and Zarcain walked in with Michelle, tied up and still unconscious. He unloaded her next to the three gangers.

“Uh… what the frag?” Rock demanded.

“Chill,” Zarcain responded. “It’s null sheen, chummer, let me explain!”

A Good Start
Oda was dealing with the passing of Brynn in his own way, he had spent the better part of the week painting a large portrait of Brynn, as she was the night he met her at the Rabid Rabbit Bar. As he was finishing up on the painting, Oda heard a commotion outside of the warehouse. As he exited, he noticed a groups of bikers walking away from a bruised and battered woman who was unconscious on the ground. Oda headed start for the young woman on the ground, drawing up his magic essence and forming that essence into a healing spell he cast on the woman. The bruises on her body faded and cuts and scrapes closed, after which the woman’s eyes slowly flitted open.

Oda: Miss you are ok going to be ok now.

She looked at him and then frantically started looking for something on the ground around her. After a few seconds of looking, she broke down crying.

Woman: No …. NO ……. NOOO they took it. They took everything.
Oda: What did they take?
Woman: They took my purse …. Which had everything in it …. I just got paid …. Now I will get evicted and can’t afford food.

Something had to be done, Oda just couldn’t allow another innocent to be destroyed in the same week, especially when he could do something about it. He told the women to go home and he would get her everything they had taken back with interest. Oda parted ways with the woman, actively recalling one of the license plates of the bikes that the women’s assailants had left on. He called Charles Boston and described the bikes and gave him the license plate number, to which Charles told Oda that he would call him back once he had something. Oda was not about to leave this to chance, so he summoned forth a spirit of air for the sole purpose of tracking down the vehicle.

Surprisingly the mundane approach provided answers first, as Charles called and informed Oda, that they were a biker gang that frequented the warehouse districts and were located right off the pier. Oda proceeded to the warehouse on foot, while doing so the spirit of air returned with a similar report as Charles. Oda dismissed the spirit as it had performed as requested. The time that it took Oda to make it to the warehouse fueled his angry and rage, not only in regards to the young women they had beaten but also with the circumstances that had befell Brynn.

Once Oda was a block or two down the street from the warehouse, he summoned another spirit, this time a powerful spirit of fire. He had this spirit remain in the astral as he would need its assistance soon enough. Oda then proceeded to the warehouse, where a single biker stood guard outside the door. The guard looked up as Oda approached.

Guard: Who the hell are you and where the drek you think you are going?

Oda didn’t respond with words, instead lightning erupted forth from his hand and struck into the chest of the guard. The electricity coursed through the guard’s body violently erupting from the back of his calves as the guard’s body slumped to the ground. Oda pushed open the doors to the warehouse open and stepped over the smoldering body of the guard as he entered. Inside the warehouse, the other bikers had been seated around a large round table in the center of the room drinking and playing cards. As Oda walked in, the bikers quickly came to their feet and pulled their weapons. The man who obviously was in charge of this group of miscreants began to speak.

_Biker Leader: Friend, I think you came into the wrong place but don’t worry we will take care of that. Kill em boys ….

Just as he spoke the last sentence, Oda had cast Mob Mind, and infiltrated the minds of the weak-willed criminals. He implanted the thought that this was a losing fight and the best course of action would be to drops their weapons. As Oda’s thought became their own, all of the bikers dropped their weapons. Oda then directed them to get on their knees in a circle facing inward, and once again the thoughts became their own and they complied. Oda then approached the table and took all the cred sticks, once satisfied that he had them all he turned his attention to the bikers. One by one he searched each of them, removing and then pocketing their cred sticks.

Oda then walked to the door of the warehouse, instead of leaving he pulled the smoldering corpse in and shut the door. He then turned to the five men that were on their knees in a circle at the center of the warehouse. Oda then called forth the powerful fire spirit he had summoned early in the center of that circle, mentally he issued on command: engulf. As he did this, the spirt materialized and spewed forth flame engulfing the five men. Oda stood there and listened as the flames burned out all the life from each of those five bikers. He thought to himself, this is a start and will pale in comparison to what those who killed Brynn will experience.

The next morning the young woman awoke to a pile of cred sticks and a single green origami praying mantis sitting on her night stand.

RIP, Brynn Taggert
The Long Revenge

R.I.P. Brynn Taggert

These. Mother. Fuckers.
Goddamn drek-sucking walking slagbags. Brynn Taggert is dead. You met her brother once, I think. He’s dead too, of course. He knew the risks though. He was a pretty established fixer, but he always loved to roll the dice. Brynn was just a kid. Or maybe thats how I’ll always remember her. Just getting started. She mostly played it safe. I should have known something was wrong when the Johnson never came to pick up the package. Should have went and found him, right then and there. In all the aftermath, we’ve forgotten about the fucking Johnson! Well, I fucking remember now. I’m gonna find him and ask some questions. I’m going to find all of them.

Well, not just me actually. The entire crew, even that Ghostbitch, “Rachael”, who doesn’t trust any of us and storms out of planning when she doesn’t get her way, only to show up the next day like nothing happened, even she is on the same page as us. I saw the look on her face. It was on all of our faces. Except for Fierce. But he’s not a killer. He might kill if he has to. But he doesn’t revel in the righteous slaughter like me and you. Or just the slaughter, like Razz and TrickyD. Oda seems cold. He presented a calm. But too calm. Like the surface of a frozen lake, smooth as glass. But under that surface, you could feel the typhoon building strength, gathering for that fateful day on the horizon when we find these fools. Even I could see it… It was there…

Rage… Hatred… Death… Destruction… Merciless Fury and Despair and Wrath.

So let’s talk about it. And by talk about it, I mean I’m gonna yell into the void all my chaotic brilliance, and your going to send it back to me, somehow, like you always do, drop by drop into a coherent logical progression of actions that will inevitably lead to our enemies dying and the rest of us living. Let’s dance.

Motive is clear. Fan is missing. The Johnson IS connected to this. At least that’s what my gut is telling me. We have no idea who this guy is. (Problem 1: Who is Johnson?)
Alternatively, he’s already dead and gave us up, but that’s less likely.

The knife was a calling card. But this job doesn’t match is M.O. at all. So either he was part of the mission (less likely) or he’s being framed. To be honest, if not for TrickyD, we probably would have bought-in, hook, line and sinker. Noone else would have caught that. VERY unlikely: Some idiot stabbed a butterfly knife into the counter, not knowing there was a SRNR who did the same thing as a calling card. Either way, if Fierce and I can contact him, we can find out the truth from him. He’s either a dead end, or he’ll lead us to Johnson. Either way, no harm in looking. If it turns out we can convince him someone is trying to frame him for a particularly BRUTAL VICIOUS UNPROFESSIONAL murder, he might just offer to help us out, simply to keep his professional, meticulous reputation intact. In this game, reputation is everything. No professional would allow this to go unanswered. Only question is, if he is involved, how do we find out without sending him underground? (Problem 2: Is Butterfly involved? How to find out?)

Gogang? (ForeFifeWonz)
To be honest, I’m not sold on this. Definitely worth looking into. The Brutal nature and petty theft fit their M.O. And they’re DEFINITELY SUICIDAL enough to do this to a friend of ours. I might just get my gang war, afterall. However, they are not the only idiots who ride on motorcycles. And what is their motive? They’re not runners, they’re gangers. Theyre pure scum. Not even Yakuza or Triad. No honor. No code. I’d kill every one of them for free. What sane Johnson would hire them to do this unless it was personal? I feel like Ghostbitch is too invested in these guys. Like, for some reason, she NEEDS them to be responsible. Maybe they are. But right now, they are only one piece in a very large puzzle. (Problem 3: I don’t see a motive or how they’d find us. Hired, maybe. But still, sending a go-gang to get a relatively ancient artifact seems like an obviously bad idea. This seems personal. How are they connected to our Johnson?)

How many motorcycles? A gang would definitely send more than two. (Another point against the go-gang). Are there any camera’s that had oversight on that alley, maybe from a building near the street where they entered the alley or a builidng in he alley? (Problem 4: Cameras observing alleyway)

Our host was hacked. Video footage was deleted. This means they had a Decker or a Cybermancer. I’m gonna have to work with Ghostbitch to find out if GoGangs have deckers. (As funny as it would be, I MUST NOT call her that to her face… not right now… it’s not the time for jokes.) My understanding is go-gangs are petty smash-and-grab drugged-out thugs. If so, this would definitely be a point AGAINST the Go-Gangs being involved. (Problem 5: 451 Decker)

Is it a calling card or not? How do we find out? (Problem 6: Knife. What does it mean?)

Can we get prints off the knife? If yes, we could probably trace prints to Go-gang member, giving us a definite answer whether they are involved, or if the motorcyle tracks are just motorcycle tracks. (Problem 7: Fingerprints)
Where is the fan? If we follow the fan, we can find who took it. (Note, FROM NOW ON, ALWAYS EMBED A HOMING BEACON IN PRICELESS ARTIFACTS!) (Problem 8. Track the fan)

Scene of the crime. Smash and grab entry is too clumsy for Butterfly. Deleting footage without wrecking host too subtle for Gogang. If we could contact Butterfly, I’d bet he’d not come back to the warehouse, if he was invovled… I certainly wouldn’t if I were him.

Going to be a very full week. Should split tasks with group where possible.

1) Johnson. I check warehouse host/ infobroker exchange for info on Johnson.
See if I can locate Brynn’s commlink.

2/7)Butterfly. With Fierce. Make contact. Tell him would like to meet, discuss significant mutual interest. Possible follow on job. Meet in person, at which point,
Option 1. Direct. (Do you leave a butterfly knife at your hits as a calling card? If so, someone is attempting to frame you for the murder of our friend)
Option 2. Indirect. (Invite to “safehouse”. Highly suspect if he refuses. Dart him, and bring him for questioning. If questioning is indeterminate, torture and kill)
Option 3: Fierce figures out the whole “talking” thing. Not my strength.

We don’t need to prove someone is trying to frame him, we just need to convince him.

3/5) Gogang. Do they have a decker? (Ghostbitch) I’m of a mind to go after these guys anyway. If all the datadelving we do gets us nowhere, we shoud just kill a bunch of these guys and get our hands on a mid-level/senior leader (Alive). There is probably all SORTS of usefull information we can torture out of him. Very profitable. Fun. Kinda an appetizer of death and destruction, while we await the main course to be served. I’ve got a big appetite. Ghostbitch is practically salivating. She mentioned she was gonna spend this whole week slaughtering them anyway. Might as well try to get some decent intel out of it.

4) Cameras (alley). Check this. Must find out who did this. Can’t kill EVERYONE.

6.) Knife. Have Fierce’s officials dust/run for prints. If we get PID on ONE Goganger, thats open season, as far as I’m concerned. Probably nothing, but we might just get lucky.

8) Have anyone with fixer/artifact/fence contacts inquire IRT a stolen fan being fenced.
For the right price (or persuasion) we might be able to have someone point us in the right direction, whether an assassin or go-ganger or johnson has tried to fence.
It’s ours. We stole it first.

REVENGE. I like the sound of the word. Times like this, I’m glad I learned some medical skills, so when we find the people responsible for this, I can keep them alive after I’m done with them. I’m actually giving serious consideration to not killing them. First, they’ll be castrated and cauterized. Next their feet, below the ankles. Then their hands at the wrist. and their nose, and eyes and tongue. They can keep their ears though. So that they may cherish every shriek of every child, marveling at their hideousness. Every babe that weeps at their approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that Thing?!?” will echo in their perfect ears. To leave them in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever. Then, of course, the Eye-for-an-Eye.

Of course, I’ll put it to a vote. Oda and Razz and Fierce might be fine with just murdering them. I hope not. I really hope none of my fellow runners are opposed to mind-blowing brutality. Which reminds me… Shopping list… I need to find a Twenty Cent curling iron…
Piano wire. Tricky D probably has the rest of what we need.

RIP Brynn Taggert. We’ll find them. And they won’t receive the luxery of death.
Not til they’ve earned it. At least if I had anything to say about it.


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